Getting Kids to Listen
Listening is becoming a lost skill in today’s digitally-distracted-information-overloaded world. But children can learn to listen, says Dr. Scott Turansky, co-founder of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.
Many children don’t know how to listen without thinking about the next thing they want to say. Or if they do listen, they make statements like, “I know,” or “I can do it better than that.” Instead, teach children to affirm others in conversation. It’s part of learning what it means to be a servant. Listening can be hard work. It requires that children think of the other person, not just of themselves.
Children can say, “I agree” or “You’re right.” Instead of launching into their own version of the story, teach them to encourage the other person first. “That must have been exciting,” or “You saw a fun thing.” Good responses in conversation are “Oh,” “That’s interesting,” or to ask a question. Conversation can be self-serving or others-serving.
If your children continually talk and rarely listen, encourage them to affirm the last thing you said before they begin talking. Affirming others’ speech is a skill that children will use forever and it helps them address a little of their own selfishness now. Furthermore, it makes conversations with children more pleasant and enjoyable.
As you listen to your kids talk, try to discern what may be distracting them from understanding the truth. Don’t feel like you have to point it out on the spot. Take time to listen and make mental notes of errors in their thinking. Look for creative ways to help them understand truth more fully.
An accepting, safe, listening ear, often opens the heart in ways that nothing else can. As you listen to your child, you’ll learn about dreams, goals, and commitments. Good or bad, time spent listening to your children gives you a greater sense of what’s going on inside, offering you ideas and direction about the heart change that’s needed.